Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Magnuson Park - Scooters again

Yesterday Wren and I went scootering at Magnuson Park while Frost scooted to U-Village with Elias and Lauren. At Magnuson, they have opened a new area of wetland trails by the playing field construction and I was glad I remembered my binoculars because the area was full of tweeters with spotter scopes and camouflage gear. The object of their attention was a suspected garganey - a rare vagrant from Asia. There was much debate among viewers who thought they saw a band indicating it could be an escapee from a collection. Complicating the issue was the question of identification. Was it a garganey or a green-winged teal variant?

I include the discussion from the Tweeters List at the end (for those ornithologically leaning).

Meanwhile, Wren could not believe the quality of the newlaid bitumen trails. He thought they were paint. He kept getting off his scooter and kneeling down to touch the ground saying "it is paint?" He didn't believe me when I said it was not and kept saying "Its paint? Its PAINT!"to himself as he scootered along.

Scooters have brought a new vocabulary to our mouths. Wren says "I am a good scooterer." I am not sure that is a word but what is better? I am a scooter rider? I am a scootee? I scoot well? None sounds as precise as scooterer so I have entered it into popular parlance by responding "Yes, you are a great scooterer."

"Amazing." Says Wren as he scoots off into the distance.

We scooted all along the waterfront from the boat launch to the bathing area. I also saw a huge flock of greater scaup on the Lake with some bufflehead and common goldeneye mixed in. We have decided to keep a family bird list for the year. Our list yesterday while scootering was:

bald eagle
common goldeneye
greater scaup
golden crowned sparrow
american widgeon
american robin
american goldfinch

Wren is back at preschool this week. Today he went in his pajamas. It is one week until cardiology clinic and I am starting to veer towards the maudlin with thoughts like:

"Poor Frost, to have a brother who is in such peril. If only he could have a normal healthy brother who would be with him his whole life." [note: Wren acts like a normal brother in all respects.]

"Maybe Wren has paler greyer poop due to liver damage which means his heart is in trouble."

We also have Wren's 3 year "well child" visit in the next week [checking] on THURSDAY and I have a mammogram this week too so we are into all things medical for a bit. I hope all are uneventful. Last year at my mammogram I was alarmed when the technician asked me if I gained weight. Apparently I needed "larger plates". I am now going for a run so as to ensure plate shrinkage this year. If my goal is reached they will be chasing me with little postage stamp plates a year from now!

On a more thrilling note, we had our first BATH in the new bathroom this weekend. It is unfinished but the cabinets have been delivered and the grouting and installation should proceed quickly this week. We all love our bath although I think we slightly overbought (in terms of size). Wren's head is barely visible over the bath rim when he sits upright in the bath and it easily fits myself, Frost and Wren in a shared bathe. I fear our water consumption will not trend in the right direction. Even Josh has been bathing!

Picture later. Run now.
----------------  TWEETER STUFF ON GARGANEY ---------------------------
Tweeters mailing list Tweeters AT u.washington.edu http://mailman2.u.washington.edu/mailman/listinfo/tweeters
Subject: garganey/teal at Magnuson Park
From: "Eugene and Nancy Hunn"
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2010 11:02:31 -0800
Tweets (long),     Brien Meilleur and I relocated the alleged Garganey (referred to as the "Garganey" hereafter) this morning about 9 AM in the big pond near the playing fields at Magnuson Park and are busy backtracking.     It was certainly the same bird we saw December 29 and that Brien saw on the 31st. It dove repeatedly, was very active, and kept to itself as before. The speculum was conspicuously visible at all times as the bird swam and on several occasions climbed out onto the bank. However, the upper speculum border was not pure white but showed some buffy white toward the body. The face pattern and bill size and color were as we had noted before, but there was a distinct, though quite restricted whitish border to the base of the tail on the outside edge, where on a Green-winged one would find a whitish patch, perhaps formed by the under tail coverts. The throat appeared pale, as is said to be a Garganey feature.     We then went looking for some Green-winged Teals for comparison and found three females on a pond to the east. On these three the speculum was never visible as they foraged, nor did they ever dive, as the "Garganey" did nearly constantly. The face patterns of these female Green-winged Teals lacked the dark shading below the pale bar beneath and behind the eye that is said to be characteristic of the female/eclipse male Garganey face pattern. -These female Green-wings also seemed to lack the pale throat. Two of the three female Green-wingeds showed much more conspicuous white patches at the base of the tail, though the third closely approximated the "Garganey." We also noted that the flank and rump feathers on the Green-winged females seemed much more coarsely patterned than on the "Garganey," and the back feathers showed rusty centers and pale rusty margins, while the "Garganey" seemed much plainer and grayer overall on the back and rump and more finely patterned on the flanks.     At this point we went back to have another look at the "Garganey." We first noted a male and female Green-winged Teal where the "Garganey" had been, but while studying them as they foraged on the far bank, the "Garganey" climbed up beside them and engaged the male Green-winged Teal in a beak wrestling match. During this agonistic encounter we could see the "Garganey's" belly well and it appeared to show a decided contrast between the white belly and the patterned breast, said to be a Garganey feature. The "Garganey" then swam off by itself and resumed diving, the speculum conspicuous as before.     So we are no longer certain about this bird being a Garganey but don't find that it fits Green-winged Teal all that well either. A hybrid is perhaps possible. Green-winged features on the "Garganey" include the buffy coloration on the upper border to the speculum and the pale base to the tail. The inner wing panel is not pale gray like a male Garganey but rather evenly dark gray like a female Garganey or Green-winged Teal, though the upper wing panel seemed pale gray on our first encounter. Garganey features include the face pattern (though it is less conspicuous than most) and pale throat, the conspicuous speculum visible at all times, the odd behavior, including constant diving and an aggressive encounter with the male Green-winged Teal, and details of the breast, flank, covert, and rump feathering and perhaps head and bill shape.      Go figure. I have some more photos which I will have a closer look at shortly but don't expect they will resolve the issue. An odd duck, to be sure. 

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